Waiting on Big News.
We have often lived our lives as slaves to emails.
Sometimes phone calls, texts, or messages too. Our hearts dropping at the sound of every notification, holding breaths and clenching fists, preparing to swallow more life altering news. You’d think we’d get used to it by now, but we haven’t. We’ve cancelled plans or not made them at all, always checking our phones, never being able to part with them in case we heard something; expecting the best, expecting the worst, and hearing nothing at all. How have we lived this way for 9 years? It’s truly exhausting. When we were told 6 years ago that we wouldn’t be able to adopt Joy, not only was Joy stolen from our future, but the state of joy was stolen from our presents as well. We have often lived half lives in this way; unable to be fully present, and wholly defenceless to the crushing decisions of others.
Often, important emails come first thing in the morning. Kampala is seven hours ahead of Ottawa, and Ugandans seem to be most productive in the morning. It is rare we receive a correspondence from someone in Uganda toward the end of their work day. Perhaps it’s the heat that makes them less productive, or their perfectly frustrating laissez-fair attitude; that pace of life that both draws me in, and angers me to no end. It’s meant that some of our most life changing, emotion impacting emails, have been received at the crack of dawn, when we were too groggy or alert to handle them. It's hard to summon the appropriate headspace, intellect, or emotional response at such an early hour. Not to mention a spiritual surrender. We'd go to bed the night before with declarations of trusting the Lord and receiving his peace, and wake up the next morning to some cracker of an email, bolting us upright in our beds, going "WHAAAT!?". Having that peaceful surrender in the morning, no matter the presence of, lack thereof, or content of an email, is hard. It has taken us years of practice, and we are still no masters. The years of trials and triumphs that have led us to believe not only in our heads, but in our hearts, that there is no use getting jostled about by the waves. Our trust in Jesus and receiving the gift of peace that he gives, has allowed us to sleep through the storms. But sometimes we have to remind ourselves to appropriate it. Like recently…
We are waiting on the final ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as to whether our adoption agency’s license to work with Uganda has been approved – or not. The final document they requested was submitted over a month ago. It is barely a paragraph long and takes less than 5 minutes to read. . . I’m not sure whether you can sense my frustration, but I’ll leave it there. . . Whether that document is reasonable enough to satisfy their needs, we are waiting to hear. Perhaps it provides them enough information to tell us “you now have the license to adopt from Uganda”, or perhaps it doesn’t. Perhaps it will lead them to further questions and demands upon us. Perhaps it will be enough for them to tell us ‘no – we will not give you this license.” We thought we’d hear back from them weeks ago. Last week in particular, we were told they’d finally be talking with our adoption agency about the license. We waited with bated breaths up until late afternoon on Thursday (when the government broke for easter holidays), as we have countless times over the years, and heard nothing.
The waiting in expectation, the hearing nothing, the being let down – it hit me harder than I thought it would. I thought I was used to this by now, but with every thrashing wave that hits us again, I’m reminded how un-invincible I am. If this were some self-fullfilling crusade, perhaps it would be more bearable. But with a living, 9 year old girl at the other end of this, each day with no news is excruciating. We’re not the only ones waiting.
And there's such a huge space between us. Her whole life she is leading. Her daily routines, thoughts and feelings. Her sunrises, my sunsets – literally on other sides of the world. So much distance; not only in miles, but in connection also. This girl, she made me a mother, but now, I barely know her. I've spent less than 6 months with her in her entire 9 years of life. A little baby knows their mother better than Joy knows me. And I can't stop thinking. Or processing. & she can't speak. How can we communicate these deep thoughts and emotions when all she can say is "ah" over the phone? When I’m with her in person, my eyes staring into hers, our body language says so much. How I long to be with her when it’s not our words that do the talking.
I'm her mother, but I'm also not. Right now, her dormitory mum is. I am incredibly grateful for that. But when your primary mode of ‘protection’ as a mother is stripped from you, it leaves you feeling pretty powerless. Sometimes I feel fake telling strangers all about our daughter, when I think about her less in a day than I do my other two. Simply because they are directly in front of me, their scents and touch so strong. I claim I'm her mother when I haven't tucked her into bed in over a year, & even then, it was only for 2 weeks… I can't fake it to myself & I definitely can't fake it to her. There's such a space between us.
We don’t “stick it out” with Joy because of our feelings. At times we have. When she was little and I couldn’t wake without imagining her little hand reaching out for mine. When I couldn’t go out without seeing her little body running along the streets. When I could barely eat food because of how my heart ached. But time has passed. Life has gone on, and my heart has forced itself to dust itself off in order to get on with life. I’ve had to get past my emotions for myself, for Tim, and for my children that are here with me. I’ve had to accept the truth that God doesn’t want me to live that way. That I can have joy, even without Joy. She certainly has joy within her as she runs around with her friends, covering her uniform in red dirt as they play in the sun. We stick it out with Joy because love is a commitment. And when there are no giggles or cuddles shared between us to keep us going, we hold on because we need to. No matter how tired we are, we are committed to our daughter who deserves a family who fights for her.
So while our journey in parenthood and adoption is not conventional, while it is riddled with waiting and separation, we allow our hearts to learn from the one who created us, who created Joy, and loves beyond our comprehension. We learn to trust him. Not because it is easy, but because it’s what will keep us the least nauseous on this rollercoaster. He is constant. He knows what will happen. Nothing surprises him. That’s the kind of person I want to hang around. His are the thoughts I want to hear running through my head.